International Downtown Association (IDA) Midwest Forum to be held in Downtown Grand Rapids

The International Downtown Association (IDA) will be holding their Midwest Forum in Downtown Grand Rapids May 5-6, 2014.  The conference has been designed to be distinctly different and memorable.  Attendees won’t be stuck inside convention and meeting spaces – they’ll be moving between six progressive topical sessions held inside the offices and intuitions that are collectively working to build and rethink the Grand Rapids community.  The focus will be issues and opportunities facing Downtowns that include talent attraction, innovative public engagement, growing support for local businesses, positioning arts and creative institutions to change the cultural landscape, transformative projects and techniques, and much more…

To explore these topics, a lineup of more than 20 speakers has been assembled, including:

See all the detail and the full list of speakers here.

Registration is only $175…

Questions? Contact David Downey (ddowney@ida-downtown.org) or Debbie Young (dyoung@ida-downtown.org) of IDA.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

 

Annexation Legislation Receives Hearing in House

The House Local Government committee took testimony this week on HB 4024 (Rep. Heise, R – Plymouth).  This would lock borders of charter townships of 20,000 or less by not allowing annexations.  This piece of legislation has been introduced for the past few sessions.  It stems from an annexation issue between Northville Twp and the city of Livonia (although the city of Livonia didn’t play an active role in the annexation).  The annexation was ultimately turned down by the voters but the goal of the sponsor is to prevent this type of “hostile annexation” to happen again between a more urbanized township and a city.  We testified in opposition to this as did the Michigan Association of Realtors.  The Michigan Association of Home Builders is opposed as well.  There will be workgroups on this starting next week and continuing through the summer months.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use, and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

FOIA Legislation Passes House

On the final session day of Sunshine Week, the House passed HB 4001, a bill that makes numerous changes to the FOIA law, making it more costly to comply and more punitive for local units of government if a mistake is made.  The bill passed in bipartisan fashion, 102 supporting and 8 opposing.

The House passed version of the legislation is here.  While we recognize this version is improved from the introduced version, we still have a number of concerns with it and remain in opposition.  Additionally, there are many punitive damages for local units of government who are abusing FOIA or those who may have made a mistake in processing but there is nothing in the legislation to address abuses on the other side.

This bill now moves onto the Senate. I would encourage you to contact your Senator and relay the impact this will have on your communities to them.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305. 

House Committee Passes Public Safety Exception to PA 54 of 2011

Today, the House Commerce Committee passed House Bill 5097, a bill that would exempt police and fire from PA 54 so they can have retroactive pay increases after a contract expires. In 2011 the legislature passed a number of reforms to help employers control costs and be better stewards of taxpayer resources. One of the, if not the, most significant reform was to prohibit retroactive pay increases after a contract has expired. This game changing statute, PA 54 of 2011, has helped communities settle contracts more quickly and provides more certainty in municipal budgets. Passage of HB 5097 would be detrimental to our ability to settle contracts quickly and efficiently.

I urge you to contact your legislators to let them know how detrimental this carve out would be. The arguments the public safety groups use for supporting this bill are that the number of PA 312 filings would proliferate and the legislature only intended this bill to impact teachers.

According to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission there were only 43 PA 312 filings in 2013 as opposed to 69 in 2011. PA 312 filings are significantly lower than they were before enactment of PA 54.

In addition, even if the legislature only intended this for teachers, it has been a game changer for municipal budgets, and it’s critical that we keep this tool to allow local units the opportunity to settle contracts expeditiously and save taxpayers money.

We appreciate all the members who have already contacted their lawmakers on this issue and we hope others follow their lead. It is critical that you please contact your legislators and ask them to OPPOSE House Bill 5097. You can find the contact information for your Legislators here.

Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at sharkins@mml.org

National Main Street Conf. in Detroit – Volunteers Needed

The National Main Streets Conference is coming to Detroit in May and the Michigan Main Street Center is calling all hands on deck to ensure a great conference experience by all.  Nearly 200 volunteers are needed from May 17 to the 22 to provide support and assistance throughout all areas of the conference.  Because of this, the Michigan Main Street Center is looking to local municipalities and those working on downtown development to meet the challenge.

Check out the link below for a complete list of volunteer opportunities that range in time, commitment, location, and training.  Volunteers committing more than eight hours of time at the conference will receive a 50% discount in registration costs.  All volunteers will enjoy swag, an on-site reception and the peace of mind knowing that they helped contribute to the best National Main Street conference to date!

Volunteer Spot Link

For questions regarding volunteer opportunities or the National Main Street Conference in Detroit check out www.preservationnation.org/msconference or email events@nmsdetroit.org.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate of the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Bill Allowing Locals To Regulate Carrier Pigeons Passes Senate

The Senate passed SB 631, a bill that would give local communities the ability to regulate carrier pigeons (currently they are not allowed to so).  The local community cannot ban them but could regulate them.  A resident in Allen Park testified in support of this legislation given the situation she is forced to live next to (200 carrier pigeons in a residential neighborhood, pigeons less than 30 feet from her home).  The city offered free land for the owner to house the carrier pigeons, which he refused.  The smell and feces droppings are affecting the resident’s quality of life surrounding the owner.  This bill would allow a local community to regulate the placement of these pigeons.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.   

Bill to Allow for Local Agriculture Marketing With DDA Funds Passes House

HB 4487, a bill to allow Downtown Development Authority funds to be used for creating and operating a marketing program for local agricultural (think local farmer’s markets), passed out of the full House of Representatives yesterday.  The DDA act does not currently prohibit this type of activity but the sponsor (Rep. Stacey Erwin Oakes, D-Saginaw ) wanted to make it clear that it is allowable.  An additional hope of the bill sponsor is that this legislation would bring to light the ability of DDAs to do this and thus they would begin partnering (or create) with their local farmer’s market in an effort to make it more vibrant.  The MEDC is supportive of this effort to create strong farmer’s markets.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.  

A Bill Prohibiting Local Ordinances for HAM Radios Gets Hearing in Senate

The Senate Energy and Technology Committee heard testimony this week on SB 493 (Sen Rick Jones), a bill prohibiting a local unit of government from adopting an ordinance that deals with amateur radios (called HAM radios) and prohibits locals from restricting antennas of amateur radios to heights below 90 feet unless they make certain proofs and sets unreasonable standards.  The League along with Tim Wolff, village manager for Lake Isabella, testified in opposition.

The HAM radio industry indicates they are codifying what the federal government already requires.  However, we feel this legislation takes that a few steps further because the federal guidelines do not have a 90 foot preemption or require the local unit of government to have “clear and convincing” evidence as to why they deny a HAM radio.

We do understand the importance this technology plays in safety when all other systems go down.  However, we have multiple concerns with this legislation. First, we have a concern for the preemption of local control.  These towers can be unsightly and can drive down the property values for those around, especially if not properly maintained so we need to ensure that the local unit of government is able to have a say in where they are placed so the location makes sense for the community.

Second, the League is concerned about the safety and property of those property owners surrounding the antenna.  Should that antenna fall, it should not be large enough that it cannot fall on the same parcel of property.  This would help ensure neighboring structures are protected and help minimize private property damages.

Third, we have concerns that the language in this legislation does not address collocation.  We wouldn’t want to see these amateur radio towers being used to host other things such as TV dishes.

We look forward to working with the sponsor and the industry to see if a solution can be agreed upon.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

 

Bill Enabling Local Stock Exchanges Gets Hearing in House

With the passage of legislation earlier this year to allow for intrastate crowdfunding, comes the next step in helping crowdfunding take off: HB 5273, a bill to define and allow local stock exchanges.  We are very excited to see this idea to continue to move forward.  This would open the way for MI businesses to put themselves on a local stock exchange (regulated in HB 5273 and registered with the state) and allow MI residents to buy stocks from those businesses on the stock exchange list.

The larger stock exchanges (New York Stock Exchange, for example) are not reachable for the smaller companies.  Local Stock Exchanges would be a great way to afford a similar opportunity to these businesses who are not up to the large stock exchange level; those very businesses who are growing the Michigan economy.

Amy Cortese, Author of a book called Locavesting and an expert in crowdfunding provided testimony on the positive impact this could have on Michigan and how Michigan could become the leaders in this type of investment of small businesses.

We look forward to working with Rep. Nancy Jenkins on this legislation as it moves through the process and are excited to see this idea being discussed.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can be reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

Bill Allowing Locals To Regulate Carrier Pigeons Passes Committee

The Senate Local Government and Elections today unanimously passed SB 631, a bill that would give local communities the ability to regulate carrier pigeons (currently they are not allowed to so).  The local community cannot ban them but could regulate them.  A resident in Allen Park testified in support of this legislation given the situation she is forced to live next to (200 carrier pigeons in a residential neighborhood, pigeons less than 30 feet from her home).  The city offered free land for the owner to house the carrier pigeons, which he refused.  The smell and feces droppings are affecting the resident’s quality of life surrounding the owner.  This bill would allow a local community to regulate the placement of these pigeons.

Nikki Brown is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development and land use issues.  She can reached at nbrown@mml.org or 517-908-0305.